Monday, December 19, 2011

Margin Call: Movie Review

The buying and selling of protagonists and antagonists in a profanely straight film.

Set during the recent financial crisis, “Margin Call” does something that most of these sobering dramas do not. It’s not about the characters reactions but their expected actions and takes place primarily in board rooms. A large number of rich and even richer guys work for a financial company that buys and sells. Buys and sells what is blurry, likely on purpose.2011

Directed by: J.C. Chandor

Screenplay by: J.C. Chandor

Starring: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey and Paul Bettany

The only place where the movie really falters is when the top executives (the even richer guys) ask the junior analysts (the rich guys) to speak in basic English. That is supposed to be for the benefit of the audience, but all that I got out of it was that the problem is their stocks are now value-less and the stock market is going to crash. Because the option of not making money isn’t an option.

It starts with the firing of many personnel. The one of significance is Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) who was working on something that he thinks might be a problem. The firm doesn’t care but the junior guys, namely Peter (Zachary Quinto), solves the problem and it is indeed a problem since life and the financial world will basically end.

The place where “Margin Call” makes the best move is when Peter goes straight to his boss with the problem. Wouldn’t it be more dramatic if he kept it to himself and tried to cover up tracks and create a bigger problem? Every other movie seems to think so. But this one continues with the right chain and Peter’s boss goes to his boss who goes to his boss who goes to the boss, and before we know it we’re watching a movie that takes place in one single day, in one room, with no deliberate cover-ups and the only people who are going to lose big are the nameless, faceless individuals out in the real world, not our protagonists or antagonists.

“Margin Call” scored well with Independent Spirit Award nominations; deservedly so for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay. The dialogue has liberal use of a certain “F” word, but when they are able to form full sentences with one word and make it both funny and character-enriching that’s the type of feat that deserves an award. There are too many actors to start singling them all out but that last accomplishment goes to Simon Baker (one of the even richer guys). Along with the profanity-ridden script, the movie is able to take only rich guys and even richer guys into people who aren’t quite protagonists or antagonists but make you care for them anyways.

Best of 2011